Monday, October 24, 2011

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

US cover // Aussie/UK Cover

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. Two weeks before the most important violin competition of her career, she has bigger things to worry about—like growing out of that suffocating “child prodigy” label, and not disappointing her mother. But it isn’t just the wrong time. It’s the wrong guy. Jeremy is Carmen’s most talented rival, and according to her mother, he’s only interested in one thing: winning.

He isn’t the only one.

Carmen is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to control performance nerves. But what started a year ago as an easy fix is now a hungry addiction. Her mother insists now is not the time to quit, but Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of doing what she’s told.

When the darker side of the classical music industry and her mother's ambition collide, Carmen must choose between her career and her love for music. (from goodreads)

Virtuosity is a gorgeously written book. I loved the smooth flowing prose from the start but what impressed me most was the way Jessica Martinez manages to evoke atmosphere and emotion ~ and her descriptions of music and the way it made me feel are *brilliant*. So succinct, never flowery ~ just the perfect blend of ache and beauty.

Virtuosity covers about two weeks in the life of Carmen ~ leading up to winning a future-changing prestigious award as a violinist. There's the perfect amount of back-story spliced in to compliment character depth and motivations. The plot pretty much straight-up concerns music and touches on themes such as performance anxiety, high (all-consuming) parent expectations, identity, and figuring out who you are verse who you want to be.

Pacing-wise: it's a dream to read. Smooth enough to settle in, compelling enough to keep reading the next chapter and tense enough to be anxious for the climax. The stakes are insanely high (and keep climbing higher) and the conflict is emotionally ache-y (in a number of sub-plots).

The conflict with love interest (fellow musician and main rival) Jeremy (British cute-guy) is startlingly compelling and definitely a mix of swoon and doubts. He's gorgeously flawed and a smidgen enigmatic. Plus: love/hate chemistry/curiosity <3. I really loved Jeremy, hey, and not just in a swoony way (there is that) but also as a character with his own story to tell.

What I most loved about Jessica Martinez's writing is how completely she gets under her character's skins. I felt like I was living the tension and the dream alongside them. Also, her villains are complex and understandable, even in their despicable moments.

Just writing this review has reminded me of so many scenes that took my breath away. A stunning book, guys.

Also ~ LOVED the ending. It was perfect ~ I love an ending that completes a character ARC more than an ending the finalises their story.

If the blurb of this book interests you, I really cannot see you being disappointed with this book. LOVED IT
thanks galleygrab :) 

Which cover is your favourite?
(I can't pick this time, I love them both. Although, having read the book, I think the Aussie one may match the tone more?)


  1. This book sounds amazing! Even the blurb established the mood and I'm glad it actually is like that :) Totally adding this to my TBR

  2. *sigh* I wish I'd grabbed the chance and read the e-galley of 'Virtuosity'. I also bailed out on pre-ordering a copy because I'd already pre-ordered something earlier. :/ So glad you enjoyed this and you had great things to say about it too. I'm glad that there was real tension that could appeal to anyone and there was adequate background and character development.

    Cool beans.

  3. I don't think I like either of this covers over the other one, they are both pretty ok.

    As for the book itself, I didn't like Carmen much so while I thought it was okay, I didn't LOVE it.

  4. Beautiful review, Nomes!

    I have this one coming up on my TBR soon, and I've heard all good things so far, so I'm really looking forward to reading it!

    I love the UK/Aussie cover. :)

  5. Everyone seems to love this book, so I'm totally looking forward to reading Virtuosity :) Great review!

  6. Yay I loved this one too!! I'm not the biggest fan of the North American cover. I dunno why. The other one is probably better in tone, and I like the font for the title... maybe it would be perfect if she had her violin or something? Not sure. Either way, great book!

  7. Ahh, first Angie then you review this and now I must have it! I, too am regretting not requesting the egalley. The US cover is so misleading, though I like the colors and the design. I thought the book was paranormal so I didn't even give it a chance. But virtuoso musicians? I am so there. This is going on my Christmas list. Thanks for the thoughtful review as always. :)

  8. I have this to read. Great review. Sounds like I should crack it open soon.

    New Follower:D


  9. This is pretty much the first review I read for this book and I'm happy for that because you've sold me!

    I love the US cover, but the Aussie one is pretty emotional, just like the book sounds.

    P.S. Have you talked to Nic? She's been in my thoughts and I hope she is doing well.

  10. I debated too long about this and now I'm regretting it!!! I LOVE the aussie cover. I think I'd buy it for that alone. :)

  11. Not having read Virtuosity (but now I totally want to!), I'd go with the US cover. It's got some of that "check out my FABULOUS HAIR"-ness that I really like. ;)

    And okay, one of my favorite elements to read about is love/hate chemistry! I don't know what it is about it but it makes my fingers tingle! I loveth the SWOON. =)

  12. The US cover reminds me of a shampoo ad. Actually when I first saw the picture I thought that's what it was. Like Virtuosity was some new kind of shampoo. (my mind. it's odd.)

    That said, I really like both covers but I agree... the Aussie/UK one fits better.


Thanks for the commenty love :)